The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 43 (1965) > Issues > Issue 1 > Maitland Lecture. Astronomy and the Engineer
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Maitland Lecture. Astronomy and the Engineer

This year is the quatercentenary of the birth of Galileo Galilei, from whom it can reasonably be said that all our modern developments in astronomy originate. Galileo did not invent the telescope-a distinction which must probably be credited to the Dutch spectacle-maker Hans Lippershey, who sought a patent in 1608 for his instrument of two spectacle lenses through which he could see the church steeple magnified-but Galileo first used the telescope to study the heavens. In 1609 with lenses 2 1/4 in. in diameter mounted in a 49 in. paper tube he discovered the mountains on the moon, the spots onthe sun, the moons of Jupiter and thereby began the revolution in our outlook on the universe which continues today with ever-increasing vigour. ‘At length, by sparing neither labour nor expense, I succeeded in constructing for myself an instrument so superior that objects seen through it appeared magnified nearly a thousand times, and more than thirty times nearer than if viewed by the natural powers of sight alone.’ Galileo died in 1642 longing for a better telescope which would gather ‘more light’. Sir Bernard Lovell